Launched just over an hour ago is a Crowdfund appeal to fund a Judicial Review against NHS England’s Accountable Care Organisation contract. Set out below is everything you need to know courtesy of Leaky Awards 2017 winners Defend Our NHS – Wirral.
Defending the NHS nationally and in Wirral
A judge has granted permission for national campaign group 999 Call for the NHS to bring a Judicial Review of NHS England’s draft Accountable Care Organisation contract. The group believe this is not only unlawful under current NHS legislation, but would threaten patient safety standards and limit the range of available treatments. The case will be held in Leeds High Court at some date after 16 February.
Wirral’s NHS campaign group Defend Our NHS support the Judicial Review; they recognise that the legal challenge affects everyone – patients, public and NHS Staff.
Kevin Donovan from Defend Our NHS urged people to support the appeal to fund the Judicial Review. He noted that, “The leader of Wirral Council, Councillor Phil Davies, says he opposes the government’s so-called ‘sustainability and transformation’ plans which are the framework for the Accountable Care Systems and Organisations. Yet, behind closed doors he has been supporting the development of the whole apparatus. The documented policy of Wirral Council – in collaboration with the local clinical commissioning group (and quoting from Council papers) – is now ‘the development of a single ‘Accountable Care System’’. Wirral Council acknowledges that, ‘The STP will operate at Cheshire and Merseyside level’.”
“Defend Our NHS members are yet to find anybody in Wirral outside of a campaign group who has heard the initials ‘STP’ or ‘ACO’ or ‘ACS’, let alone understands what they will mean for our beloved National Health Service. The issue is that Accountable Care Systems and Organisations are being planned secretively, including right here in Wirral. They are a new form of local NHS and social care organisation; the intention is to cut costs by managing demand for health and social care. This will speed up the creation of a two-tier system – where those with money will use private providers and the rest will be left with reduced health and social care services. Protecting the NHS as a fully funded public service of comprehensive healthcare is vital for us all.”
The Judicial Review and the national campaign
999 Call for the NHS and internationally recognised public law firm Leigh Day are launching the third and final stage of their ‘crowdfund’ on 12 January, in order to cover all the costs of bringing the Judicial Review, and are appealing for £12,000. This amount, when added to existing funds donated by hundreds of generous members of the public in 2017, will cover the £37,000 cost of the Judicial Review.
The link to crowdfund is: Crowd Justice Healthcare4All Stage 3
Recognising that it is in the public interest to establish if the Accountable Care Organisation contract is lawful or not, the Judge has awarded 999 Call for the NHS a capped costs order of £25K. This limits the costs that the campaign group would have to pay NHS England, were they to lose the case.
999 Call for the NHS were originally well known as the Darlo Mums who organised a 300 mile Jarrow to London People’s March for the NHS in 2014. This culminated in a rally in Trafalgar Square attended by 20,000 people.
Jo Land, one of the original Darlo Mums who marched from Jarrow to London, said,
“In 2014, 20,000 people felt so strongly about the devastating effects of marketisation on the NHS that they joined us at the end of our 300 mile march to London to take a stand against it and spread the word.
Please join us again, in marching on the courts to challenge the Accountable Care Organisations contact. This is a big step for us and we need your support. We believe it is vital to determine if the new contract is lawful or not. We all have to fight this together for the sake of the nation’s health and democracy.”
What is an ACO?
The Judicial Review is a direct challenge to NHS England’s introduction of a model contract for use by new local NHS and Social Care organisations, known as Accountable Care Organisations (ACO).
ACOs are based on the business model used by the USA’s Medicare/Medicaid system, which only provides state-funded “managed care” for the elderly and people who are too poor to pay for private health insurance. “Managed care” involves a variety of mechanisms used by managers of American healthcare companies to get doctors to avoid expensive forms of treatment.
In granting permission for the Judicial Review, the Judge commented that it would not consider the merits or demerits of the ACO model, but would focus on the lawfulness of the method for paying Accountable Care Organisations.
The group say that the current lack of a legal framework for Accountable Care Organisations – and in particular the way they would be paid to provide local NHS and social care services – is simply not compatible with democratic control and oversight of the resources and future of our biggest public service. And the government has backtracked from its 2017 Manifesto promise of new legislation for this radical shake up of the NHS and social care.
The Wirral campaign
Defend Our NHS has existed for seven years. It was formed in January 2011 by a small group of people concerned about the changes to the NHS proposed by the then Tory Health Secretary Andrew Lansley. The warnings given by the Group’s founder members (who included Margaret Greenwood, now MP for Wirral West) about the likely damage to the NHS have sadly come true.
Since 2011 the group has been active in informing the public about the growing local and national crisis in the NHS. It has a large mailing list and massive support for its Facebook page. Scores of people attend its public meetings and demonstrations.
In recent years Defend Our NHS in Wirral has:
- Joined the junior doctors on their picket lines as they campaigned for safe conditions for patients;
- Uncovered the hidden involvement of Richard Branson in Wirral general practice;
- Challenged Wirral Clinical Commissioning group over its implementation of government health cuts;
- Identified the now public crisis at Arrowe Park Hospital;
- Supported the community campaign to re-open the Eastham Walk-In Clinic;
- Revealed (in 2015) Wirral’s invitation to and involvement with Advocate Health Care, a US organisation well known for its ACO dealings; and now:
- Exposed the secretive plans by the leaders of Wirral Council to defy their own party’s policy by implementing the STP/ACO.
1. 999 Call for the NHS is a grassroots, volunteer-run campaign organisation. It has been actively campaigning since 2014 to restore the NHS as a properly funded, publicly owned, managed and provided comprehensive health service that is free at the point of need for everyone with a clinical need. www.999callfornhs.org.uk
2. Defend Our NHS was established in Wirral in 2011 and is also entirely volunteer-run. It has attracted a large and active group of supporters. As well as concerned local residents its supporters now include a significant and growing number of doctors and nurses, outraged by what is being done to the NHS. Its Facebook page is at https://www.facebook.com/groups/defendournhs/
3. From 6pm on 12th January, the crowdfund will be live at: Crowd Justice Healthcare4All Stage 3
4. Campaign groups are concerned that the contract, if implemented, would threaten patient safety and force hospitals and doctors to restrict treatment, making decisions based on money not clinical judgement. They believe that this new contract is unlawful under current NHS legislation.
This is because the new ACO contract does not link payment to the number of patients treated and/or the complexity of the medical treatment they need, as required by the 2012 Health and Social Care Act, but is based on a fixed budget for an area’s population. This budget would be geared to helping to meet the £22bn+ funding shortfall by 2021 that the government is imposing on the NHS in England.
5. As well as bringing this Judicial Review, 999 Call for the NHS – all unpaid volunteers – is also campaigning with other grassroots groups across England for the passage of the NHS Reinstatement Bill, the restoration of proper levels of NHS and social care funding and the protection of NHS healthcare for all – not the fragmentation and downgrade of our NHS to something resembling the USA’s Medicare.
6. A Judicial Review is a process of examining in court whether the government and/or its agencies are acting lawfully.
7. CrowdJustice is the only platform dedicated to raising funds and awareness for legal cases. CrowdJustice has established legal crowdfunding as a powerful tool for citizens to access justice and lawyers take cases that otherwise would not be heard. CrowdJustice is democratising the justice system by empowering people and communities to champion and build support for legal issues that matter to them. CrowdJustice has raised more than £4 million from over 100,000 backers to support legal action in the courts.